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Monday, November 04, 2013

IN AMSTERDAM, IT'S WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE!

Amsterdam canalsSome say the name Amsterdam is derived from its source, a Dam on the Amstel River.  As a result of the dams, the Dutch created Amsterdam’s canal system—one that nearly boggles the mind. Amsterdam is laid out in concentric semi-circle rings of 165 canals with a combined length of 60 miles. Its nickname is “Venice of the North.”  The center is at Dam Square

Just imagine the thought processes involved in creating this Canal Ring which recently celebrated its 400th birthday and is still growing—165 interlocking canal networks arranged around 90 islands and offering crossings via almost 1,400 bridges!  No wonder it is named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a place of significant cultural or physical import.  Amsterdam is certainly both of these.

Amsterdam canals

In my last post about buildings in Amsterdam, I indicated how “dry land” is at a premium in this city where 35% of the population is under 25 years old.  Despite the approximately 6,800 16th, 17th, and 18th century buildings in Amsterdam, housing is at a premium and buying a warehouse apartment runs 500,000 euros (roughly $665,000 US).  The buyers are often two-income-childless couples. It’s not hard to see why houseboats are a popular alternative living space. Houseboats line many of the canals.  Think in numbers around 2,500. 

Amsterdam canals

It’s as expensive to own a houseboat as it is to own an apartment in Amsterdam.  Actually, what one buys is not the boat but the mooring.  It has been more than 30 years since a boat could come along and freely attach itself to a mooring.  With regulations, each mooring is taxed and its use monitored.  No more are available which means with each passing year, the value rises.  Some houseboats are absolutely magnificent.  Some are little more than boxes.  Some are homes; some are places for entertainment or business.

Amsterdam canals
There is no shortage of places to sit outside with friends and watch life float by.
Privately owned boats of many sizes and shapes, business boats, tourist-themed boats, and sightseeing boats all ply the waters of the canals. There are also water taxis for your enjoyment and transportation.  Some taxi “drivers” double as tourist guides.

Amsterdam canals
DHL finds a way to deliver no matter where you are.
Just look at these photos for merely a glimpse at the possibilities in traveling and/or living along the canals.

Amsterdam canals

Amsterdam canals

Amsterdam canals

Amsterdam canals

Some things are musts in Amsterdam.  Taking a canal boat and seeing the city from that vantage point is a must.  We simply walked into one of several companies located on the same block.  There are many tours available, some with open boats.  You can also paddle your way along a canal if that is your wont.  No matter what you choose, you will really enjoy the tour and the narrative history that accompanies it.

Amsterdam canals
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